Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hudson's "Bound to Rise" baking powder

Image from the Observer newspaper, 22 January 1898. Click to enlarge.

I never thought something like baking powder would be puzzling.

Just doing some Papers Past trawling, and I came upon this advertisement. J. J. Hudson's "Bound to Rise" Balloon brand of baking powder, featuring a balloon, a couple of flags (one the Union Jack, the other the NZ ensign), and a chap standing in basket, holding what I imagine would be a tin of the said baking powder. The brand seems to appeared in the late 1880s, while the powder itself (if you believe the ads) originated in 1874, in Mr. Hudson's chemist shop at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets in Auckland.

Of course, I'm a child of the last half of the 20th century -- and I know of Edmond's "Sure to Rise" baking powder, from Christchurch. The stuff that's still around, along with the cookbooks. Only now, they call it "Edmond's STR baking powder" on the Goodman Fielder website.

One powder featured a balloon, the other opts for the sunrise. I started to wonder -- which came first?

At this stage, until more info comes in (if anyone knows more on this, don't hesitate to drop me a line) -- it looks like it was the Aucklander.

When the Cyclopedia of New Zealand was being compiled and readied for publication in 1902, John Holmes Hudson featured as the maker of
"the celebrated “Balloon Brand” Baking Powder manufactured on his premises and which bears the familiar registered trade mark “Bound to Rise.” Its history dates back to 1874 in which year Mr. Hudson manufactured his first batch of baking powder, since which time it has retained its premier position. This is a wonderful record considering the many importations of foreign articles that have been introduced into local markets, but all have failed to oust the “Balloon Brand” from the front rank. Its name is a household word throughout the whole of the province and the islands."
A year later, in December 1903, Hudson was out dining at the Auckland Club, when he suddenly felt ill. He was taken home in a cab, but once there lost consciousness and passed away, from heart disease. In Auckland since 1860, he came in on the Annie Langton, according to press reports of his demise. (Bay of Plenty Times, 18 December 1903)

Hudson developed his baking powder in 1873, in partnership with (apparently) chemist Thomas Boucher Hill at 57 Victoria Street in Auckland (it was initially known as "Hill's Colonials Baking Powder - Waikato Times, 12 June 1873) ; Thomas J. Edmonds developed his in 1879, but it appears to have remained quite local. I can't find any advertising before 1888. When he had a stall at the Jubilee Exhibition, the report (Christchurch Star, 20 December 1900) says he had been manufacturing his product for 20 years. He was not only into baking powder, but also self-raising flour and egg powder. Makes sense.

But ... the brand. Those slogans ...

In the Auckland corner, Mr. J. H. Hudson, who started using balloons as branding, with "Bound to rise" from around 1887 (earliest ad found online, the Observer, 25 June 1887).

In the Christchurch corner, Mr. T. J. Edmonds -- 1901, at the Christchurch Metropolitan Show (Christchurch Star, 7 November 1901)

I don't think one merchant borrowed from the other. One chose a balloon, the other may have just said his powder was "sure to rise". They probably both emerged at the same time, Hudson's product older than Edmond's. But Edmond's, of course, was the one to win out.

The cookbooks started coming out in the first decade of the 20th century. Hudson's hadn't a hope of maintaining brand superiority against that onslaught. The last reference I can find at the moment is c.1919, a gallant set of ads in the Poverty Bay Herald declaring Hudson's (then owned by another company) were the best in the land. No sign of that "Bound to Rise" motto, just the balloon name.

From then on, however, just about the only brand name worth knowing in the baking powder trade seems to have been Edmond's.

Poverty Bay Herald, 17 July 1919

Update, 5 February 2012: Darian, from the Long White Kid blog, has written about T J Edmonds and his products.


  1. See my post from last week on Edmonds. There is actually quite a lot of conflicting/incorrect information. However you are right that Hudson came first.

  2. Cheers for that, Darian. Just added that link as an update beneath the post.

  3. Yes I think I give him a check-list mention actually. I also assumed that this Hudson had some relation to Hudson's biscuits since baking powder, flour and baking aren't such a stretch to say the least- but apparently not at all connected.

  4. I also recently discovered a bit more about Thomas Boucher Hill (Hudson's partner) who was indeed a chemist.
    “Who was responsible for the introduction of the sparrow into New Zealand? According to an article in the "Auckland Star," it would appear that Mr. Thomas Boucher Hill, a well-known chemist who died at Raglan recently, played no small part in their liberation. The "Star” says: "Mr. Hill was one of the founders of the Auckland Acclimatisation Society in 1867, and his name appears amongst the members in the first annual report published in 1868. A clause in that report states ‘a consignment of house sparrows had been, introduced by the barque Novelty from Australia, and would be liberated as soon as they had gained sufficient strength of wing.' A later clause reports that the sparrows were turned out by Mr. Hill, of Freeman's bay and 'are now to be seen in that neighbourhood fully acclimatised.' Mr Hill always denied being responsible for the introduction of the sparrows, but apparently from the report he was asked to let ten at liberty after they were imported." (Evening Post 26 October 1922)

  5. Interesting...chemistry and a great interest in Ornithology and Zoology went hand in hand for obvious reasons. I'm working on two chemists at the moment who was also quite involved in bird research and Royal Society of New Zealand, all those amazing drawings that are on-line, I love looking through them
    I wonder what happened to the Hudson's baking powder business in the end...? They were usually absorbed by another rather than going out with a whimper...especially a brand that was established for 45 year+, although it's not unheard of for people to just close up shop.

  6. It looks like it did die with Hudson. I've only found one or two references to the baking powder in 1904 -- then nothing. Hopefully, more info may come through when the Auckland Star is extended online later this year.

  7. Have you any idea if they're ever planning to extend Papers Past beyond '45? If so any rumblings about when? And NZETC seems to be down for the last couple of weeks..

  8. There's no plans to bring the NZ newspapers down past 1945, as far as I'm aware -- and my guess is that's because of our copyright laws. Publication owners and archive holders (in the Star's case, that's the Aussie Fairfax group) have definite copyright for anything from 1946 onwards.

    Yeah, I've noticed the NZETC has been more than a tad squirrelly over the past few weeks. Not sure what's happening there. We may have to wait until the varsities get back later on this month.

  9. Well that's dull to say the least. Bloody corporations and their "we have to own everything" copyright crap.

  10. I was just trawling through Papers Past and I noticed that by the mid-late teens, Sharland & Co had started using the slogan "BOUND TO RISE" in conjunction with their self-brand of baking powder. I wonder if there is a connection. Sharland were one of those companies that tended to snaffle up any smaller brands that were competition, and later the bigger ones like St. George/Irvine & Stevenson which they bought just to basically shut down straight away.

  11. You could be right, there. Sharland & Co went down to the 1960s -- wonder how long that slogan lasted?

  12. Sharland purchased St George in 1977 so they were still around then. "Bound To Rise" may be a lot like "Often Licked, Never Beaten" which first seems to have been used by a small NZ ice cream concern named Barlows in the 1930s , ended up with Tip-Top for a short time and now of course is famous for being Frosty Boy's. Just too good to let it slide.

  13. Weird how again I keep running across this stuff like the token thing last week :
    - "Because Self help Stores could only obtain Edmonds baking powder on manufacturer's terms, they decided to make their own. This they rather irreverently labelled 'Bound to Rise', which understandably inflamed the opposition. Edmonds were unsuccessful in seeking an injunction".

  14. Oh, neat! Thanks for that, Darian.


  15. It's possible that Self Help may have acquired the brand since they were another company that were big on acquiring any other businesses that were in competition and/or useful, through the decades. I keep meaning to do a post on Self Help so I haven't really looked into it.

  16. I've found a few ads for Hudsons up until 1919. After that it seems to disappear and that could fit since Self Help were starting to get quite established by the early-mid twenties. On the other hand, it could just be a ubiquitous slogan...

  17. This comment accidentally deleted.

    "It didn't die with Hudson. F.J. Cooper took over the business (The Auckland Central Drug Store), renaming it Victoria Pharmacy, in 1893. I have a label for his "Balloon Brand Baking Powder" "Bound to Rise" , incorporating the same picture as the advert above. He and later his son ran the pharmacy at Victoria and Hobson Street Auckland till 1961, when H.L.Chapman bought it, and he sold it to Neville Coote in 1980. Still as "Coopers Pharmacy Ltd". Hudson owned it from 1880 to 1893, after a partnership with Hill, who established it in 1861.

    John Barton"